What a year 2020 was. I don’t even want to get into everything, we are here to discuss whiskey. This list will be my Top 10 Whiskies I drank in 2020. I will also highlight some runner ups and some dud’s I purchased.
I have specific rules for my list:
- I had to actually buy the bottle myself, not a media sample or trade
- It cannot be allocated, as in once a year -those fall in honorable mention. Quarterly or Seasonal (3 seasons) are allowed
- It cannot be a store pick
- It has to be local to me, so no out of state trades.
First, let’s start with some honorable mentions (in no real order):
1: Weller Antique - This goes without saying. Weller was bound to be on the list in some way shape or form. Weller 107 (Antique) is my favorite expression from the line up and i happened to grab a few bottles last year and have made them last.
2: Cream of Kentucky 12.3 year Single Barrel - Jim Rutledge is a well known name in the bourbon world, from former master distiller of Four Roses, to now starting his own venture and reviving Cream of Kentucky. The 11.5 was great, the 12.3 SiB was phenomenal. It retailed for $200 and i would happily pay that again for a bottle. But, there are things I would much rather have for the money.
3: Angel’s Envy 2020 Cellar Collection - This 10yr 10m old bourbon retailed or $200 at costco and about $260 everywhere else. To me, as an Angel’s Envy fan, I think that is a good price for a great limited edition expression. Once again, however, I could’ve taken that money no bought several other bottles and been just as happy. I do not regret it, but wouldn’t do it again.
4: Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye Whiskey - I hated this bottle at first. I thought it killed the entire rye whiskey profile. I was so upset about this purchase I was telling people to avoid it at all cost. After letting it air for a few months and revisiting it I was blown away. Cocoa powder, toasted sugar, and rich vanilla made this one of my weekend favorites. It fell short because of the initial impression, still worth checking out! This was supposed to be a limited edition item, but never really caught on. It is good enough to try, but didn’t wow me enough to make my Top 10 List.
5: Virgil Kaine Ribbon Rail Rye - Now this would be in my top 10, except, it was sent to me. For that reason, it has to be in the honorable mention list. This rye is a blend of 3 different rye whiskeys, one of them having been aged in a chocolate porter beer barrel! The finish is fantastic and I am really upset I have to savor my one bottle. If this is around your area, I highly suggest it for a fun and different profile of rye whiskey!
6: Maker’s Mark SE4xPR5 - Now I will start by saying I do not love this bottle as much as I love the RC6, but it still has a soft spot in my heart. I love that MM has entered the limited release game and are kicking ass while doing it! They have reinvented their marketing and have finally stepped into the modern era. Before now, the only new and exciting stuff from MM was the 101 at duty-free stores and MM Private Selects done by liquor stores.
7: Knob Creek Limited Edition 15yr - This is the second KC item on this honorable mention list, might say I am a bit of a fan boy. A lot of people were very upset by this bottle. “15yr KC for $100?! I can get a 15yr store pick for $60!!” Is basically what everyone said. But, you know what? This bottle kicks ass! Single barrel KC picks are always good, but with the older age, sometimes they are a bit too bitter and tannic. Quite a few stores would pick high age barrels just to brag about the age one their label. Age doesn’t mean everything, but with this limited edition it does. This meant the end to the KC store picks with higher age statements and cheaper price tag. But tell me who else is putting out this quality of product, with this age statement, at a better price? No one is.
8: Stagg Jr Batch 14 and 15 - These could technically be on the top 10 list, but I wanted bottles that are more readily available. Things that only release twice a year are still pretty slim pickin’s. I did not actually land either of these bottles, but through the kind souls of some of my friends, I was able to sample both of them! Both batches were amazing and drank like butter. Batch 15 edged out Batch 14 for me in terms of flavor and finish, but both are great buys! If you see either of these for under $65, scoop them up and send them to me!
No Score (only had small samples)
9: Bardstown Bourbon Company Goodwood - This was also a sample sent to me by BBC, so it cannot qualify for anything in the actual list. Even so, this was a damn good pour to have! I had never tried a beer finished bourbon before this and I am shocked more brands do not do it. I have had plenty of Jameson beer finished whiskey, but bourbon? I thought this was a crazy mixture. It was not. I highly suggest everyone suck it up, accept the retail price of $110-$130 and try it! I was super shocked at what flavor the Goodwood Walnut ale added to this. I was such a huge fan that I did actually buy a bottle later, but with it being a one and done release - had to keep it honorable mention.
10: Balvenie 15yr Sherry Finish - The one and only single malt on this list. This was also a sample that was sent to me, not from the distillery, but from the awesome people here at W&W’s! I was very surprised by this scotch. Oak tannins, rich red fruit, sweet vanilla and caramels in a scotch?! I never knew this was possible. Yes it still has a bit of that single malt bite and a tad more grain than I tend to prefer, but it was so good I had to share it with a friend who ended up falling in love with it as well! Balvenie is the perfect single malt to branch out to if you are a bourbon lover, the double wood is a fantastic starter for a great price.
Like I said at the start, these are just some of the bottles that stuck out to me over the year. These all range in price, age, and profile, but were some of my favorite pours that aren’t readily available or I didn’t pay for.
Do you think any of these should be on my actual Top 10 list? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @mydailybourbon on IG